Volume 3 No. 4
The story below is from MAPSA, Michigan's Charter School Association-committed to supporting better education opportunities to every child;   visit their website to view their full   #MICharterTrailblazers series.

How a tribal college in the Upper Peninsula fought for the right to provide better education for students in underrepresented populations, despite legal concerns 

 In 1984, Bay Mills Indian Community chartered Bay Mills Community College (BMCC), seeking to serve the postsecondary needs of tribal students not only in their local community, but also those across the entire state of Michigan. And while the community saw demonstrated success with the college, they continued to watch as local students - both tribal and non-tribal - struggled to even complete high school, let alone feel prepared for postsecondary education.
One of those concerned tribal community members was Mickey Parish, who serves as President at BMCC. "When the charter school movement was unveiled by Governor John Engler, we thought that it might be just the solution we needed to address those students who were failing in our local school system," said Parish, "we were seeing students dropping out as early as 7th and 8th grade - and some who completed high school were simply going through the motions."
But what could the tribal college bring to K-12 education that wasn't already being delivered in the traditional system? For Parish, it came down to accepting that there are learners in every community who need something 'different' - and they shouldn't be ignored. "I think that there are students in every traditional school district who need more," said Parish, "some learn by doing - they need more hands-on instruction. We felt we could provide that through a charter school."
In 2000, Bay Mills successfully became an authorizing body for Michigan charter schools. Because the college's service area spanned across the entire state, they could charter schools essentially anywhere - and their tribal status made them immune to the 'charter cap' that existed until 2011.
In their first year, they chartered two schools, learning the ropes and discovering the best strategies for success. The following year, they moved to open nine additional schools, bringing their total to eleven. 
Then they got sued by the Michigan Education Association (MEA). 

The MEA argued that "because the tribal college board (who is responsible for chartering schools) is an appointed body, versus an elected one, they should not have the authority to charter schools and redirect public dollars.' Despite this attack, BMCC fought back - and won. 

Reflecting back on this attack, Mickey says it came as no surprise. "Education isn't the first area of progress that we've had to defend," he recalls, "from gaming, to fishing, to taxes, we've become accustomed to advocating for ourselves as a tribal community." 
Now, BMCC authorizes 46 schools across the state, some of which consistently outperform competitive district schools and score extremely high on state exams. And while the long-term success of the small tribal college is evident, Mickey is hopeful that that success will continue to grow provide even more opportunity for those underrepresented young learners who need 'more.'
See the original story on MAPSA's website here: https://www.charterschools.org/mi-charter-trailblazer-mickey

The Bay Mills authorized George Washington Carver Academy (GWCA), located in Highland Park, believes in the uniqueness and abilities of each student and incorporates that belief into their everyday teachings. By focusing on uniform principles of core subjects, educators reinforce the foundation of family. The Academy not only emphasizes the value of education, but also on the values of self-worth and quality performance for staff and students alike. By partnering with families and the community, George Washington Carver Academy achieves academic excellence yearly.

The Academy offers a variety of after-school activities for students, including choir, National Junior Honors Society and dance. They also have sports teams that meet after school, such as basketball and cheerleading. Academics-wise, GWCA began a new curriculum this school year for reading and math, bringing in reading specialists, social workers and many other wonderful additions to the learning environment. The classrooms are now equipped with new Smartboards and measures have taken place to make sure each student has textbooks for every subject.

Two valuable extracurricular programs GWCA offers are called The Manhood Project (TMP) and My Sister's Keeper (MSK). Founded by Phil Black, TMP helps to influence young men through positive role models. Throughout their time in the program, the current 150 young men supported incorporate 5 key virtues into their lives: love, respect, courage, provision and protection. Not only do TMP emphasize character building, but also communication skills and self-discovery. MSK brings programming to young women middle school to college-aged regarding leadership development, self-esteem workshops and health fairs. Dr. Antionette G. Alvarado founded MSK in 2004, with the goal of effecting change in the lives of women through professional capacity building coaching relationships (www.mskfoundation.org). 
Both of these programs encourage self-growth for young men and women, which is a core value of GWCA.

Learn more about George Washington Carver Academy by visiting their website: https://www.gwcarveracademy.org/ 

Interested in gaining educational experience? Or are you looking to add to your resume? Consider becoming a charter school board member for a public school academy authorized by Bay Mills Community College Charter Schools Office!
At Bay Mills Community College, we support a quality education to urban, minority and/or poor children.
Bay Mills will provide all of our academy boards with pertinent training so that they are able to make choices that are in the best interest of the students that attend their academies .
Our public school academies are always looking for new members that bring a range of skills, experiences and desire to help the Academy students to excel academically, as well as having the goal of advancing the mission of Bay Mills.
Some requirements of the position:
  • Engagement with the goals of the Academy
  • Enthusiasm to be an ambassador for the Academy
  • Willingness to fulfill the obligation of a board member, as well as continue to uphold the standards of being a board member
Board Member Qualifications:
  • Citizen of the United States
  • Resident of the State of Michigan
  • Submit materials requested by the College Charter Schools Office such as:
    • Public School Academy Board Member Appointment Questionnaire
      • Must include authorization to process a background check of the nominee
      • Submit annual disclosure of conflicts of interest
Members of the Board of Directors shall include:
  • At least one parent or guardian of a child attending the school
  • One professional educator; preferably a person with school administrative experience
Members of the Board of Directors shall NOT include:
  • Any member appointed or controlled by another profit or non-profit corporation
  • Academy employees or independent contractors performing services for the Academy
  • Any current or former director, officer, or employee of a management company that contracts with the academy
  • College officials or employees 
All Academy Board members shall serve in their individual capacity, and not as a designee of any other person or entity. If it is found that a person is serving as a representative or designee of another person or entity, they shall be deemed ineligible to serve as a Director of the Academy Board. They shall be removed from office in accordance with provisions found in the Resolution or Schedule 2: Bylaws.
Note that a Director serves at the pleasure of the College Board, and may be removed with or without cause by the College Board at any time.
Working with an Academy is the perfect opportunity to advance your career interests, expand your knowledge on education and help children receive a quality education that will last a lifetime. Apply to become a board member today!

For more information or to receive an application, please contact Megan Ringuette, Bay Mills Community College Charter Schools Office Compliance Coordinator at 906-248-8419 or mringuette@bmcc.edu.
About Bay Mills Community College Charter Schools
Bay Mills Community College began authorizing charter schools in the year 2000 and now authorizes 46 schools serving approximately 22,000 students. Fall 2015: 22,729 and Spring 2016: 22,257
Our Mission: To ensure a quality education for urban, minority, and/or poor children by improving and expanding educational opportunities through innovative oversight methods. To provide academy boards with the necessary support and training so that they may make educated decisions that are in the best interest of the students that attend their academies.